Want to Practice Apologetics? Be Negative

by Josh Buice

Today we continue a three-part series (posted each Tuesday) that will focus on the positive side of being negative.  Today’s subject is centered on the need to be negative in the work of apologetics.  Last week the focus was evangelism and next week will be focused on the work of pastoral ministry.  We’ve all heard the line, “Don’t be negative, you will push people away.”  Is that true or is that merely the tagline of an ultra tolerant inclusive culture that demands positivity and tolerance at any cost?

We live in a culture that paints an improper picture of Jesus as the “nice guy” on the right side of the Bible rather than the wrathful God on the left side.  Perhaps people should read all of the right side of the Bible – especially the first four books of the New Testament along with the last book of the New Testament as a fitting assessment of the true Jesus. Jesus was often straightforward and He placed a great deal of emphasis upon defending the truth of God and the sacred Scriptures.

Defining Apologetics

Apologetics is not the practice of giving an apology.  It’s the act of defending the faith.  Cornelius Van Til once defined apologetics as “the vindication of the Christian philosophy of life against the various forms of the non-Christian philosophy of life.” [1]  One of the key words in his definition is the word, “against” which points to the negative focus that must be included in the work of apologetics.  Perhaps the key verse in the New Testament regarding apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15, which says, “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.”

The Greek term translated, “to make a defense” is ἀπολογία – from where we derive the word – apologetics.  The fact that we must defend the faith once delivered to the saints is clearly laid out in the Scriptures, and it’s clearly practiced by the early church.  The New Testament is filled with apostolic examples of apologetics from Peter’s sermon at Pentecost to Paul giving a defense of the faith before Agrippa.  Likewise, we see the early pastors being mandated to practice the work of apologetics in their pastoral ministry (Titus 1:9).  In short, all Christians are apologists at some level.  In the home as Christian parents, at your place of employment, or on social media.  You don’t have to be called to full-time vocational ministry before you engage in apologetics…

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Want to Practice Apologetics? Be Negative